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Everyone has a place that helps bring clarity to their life, and for me that place is New York City. Someone may ask, what is so great about New York City? What draws all these people from around the world to this one spot? I believe there is something special, or dare I say magical, about this city. For me, New York City has impacted how I think about diversity, where things originate, and how important it is to feel like you belong.
On my first trip to NYC, I flew into LaGuardia airport. From the sky I was able to see how this city physically stood apart. Upon leaving for my trip to NYC, I was unsure of what to expect because it had always been a dream of mine to visit this city that sits on an island. It’s crazy to think that according to Wikipedia this place is only “13.4 miles in length, and 2.3 miles in width”. Most people don’t realize that most of the famous places they have seen on TV sit on this island called Manhattan.
It’s also important to remember that just as the island is small, it is also very diverse. I had heard and read stories about the people of New York and the East Coast. The stories were of how rude they are, how they fight non-New Yorkers, and so on and so forth. Let me tell you, that is not the experience that I had. I believe you must take the people of NYC for who they are.
They are a fast-paced society, and they don’t want you to get in their way. If you treat them with respect, then they will treat you with the same respect just as you would hope. According to Wikipedia’s “Manhattan” article, there are a lot of people that call New York City home, well “8,622,698 to be exact per the latest poll from 2017”. The number increases if you add the total number of tourists that visit throughout the year. “At the end of 2017, Wikipedia states that a total of 62.8 million tourists visited NYC, with 13.1 million being international tourists”. This place has a special energy and a unique heartbeat that draw people here.
The island of Manhattan is made up of ‘56 different neighborhoods” that are all eccentric. From Chinatown, Little Italy, SoHo, Times Square, Hell’s Kitchen, and the Financial District, every one of these neighborhoods offers something unique. I had my first New York style pizza slice at John’s Pizza of Times Square, and it was delicious. In Chinatown, I had dumplings, boba drinks, and a cone crepe filled with nutella, strawberries, and bananas. On the Upper West Side, there is a little place called Jacob’s Pickles that has become the highlight of each trip and holds a special place in my heart. They serve a dish that consists of two fluffy pancakes, three chicken strips, syrup, and they top it off with bacon crumbles. This dish has become my all-time favorite meal to eat while in NYC, because it always brings me back to my first time there with my family and friends. If you are ever in the area, you must check it out.
Another thing I love about New York is its history. Being able to stand at the shoreline of Upper Bay, and gaze at the Statue of Liberty in person, is a must for your first or even fifth visit. It is a well know fact that “France gave the statue as a gift of friendship to the United States on October 28, 1886”. Furthermore, when it comes to history, you also have the Rockefeller Center. The Rockefeller Center started construction in the “1930’s and consists of 19 massive buildings”. I have been able to take the Rockefeller Center Tour where they explain how the Rockefellers’ history is tied to oil and gas, and how their influence has helped shape and mold the city. Also, the New York Stock Exchange does a good job reminding you that billions and billions of dollars are traded around the world from this location.
On the island, there are also some painful memories, like the location of the tragedy on September 11, 2001. I remember exactly where I was that day. I had just gotten to work at our new site where we build custom cabinets and do all the trim work in new higher-end homes in Houston. I was the only one on the job site and I had on AM talk radio when there was breaking news about New York City. They reported that there was an explosion at the North World Trade Center tower. Then a little later there was an explosion at the South World Trade Center Tower. This was an act of terrorism. There is great sorrow when you think of the thousands of lives that were lost in such a short time. Today there are bronze panels where those buildings once stood, and to see the names of all the victims inscribed is hard. I ran my fingers across only about a third of the names, and I can only imagine the pain these families feel. Surprisingly, there is a peace that you feel over this sadness because there is a sense of hope even after dealing with tragedy. It is true what is said, we all heal, we all move on, and we will never forget!
While experiencing a place is fun, what happens to you there is what makes the memories so vivid. I journeyed to NYC with my girlfriend (who is now my wife), my now brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and 3 close friends. My wife, brother and sister-in-law had all been there before, but for myself and our 3 friends, this was our first experience. We acted like such tourists, but we did not care because we were there. For me just walking around hearing all the noises, the hustle of the city, and being a part of the sea of people was not overwhelming like I had been warned. It was enjoyable, and I wanted more of it. Our first evening there we went to Times Square. Times Square was so bright, there were so many people, and if you got distracted you could get separated from the people you are with. I was taking it all in, and I took pictures of everything since I didn’t want to forget anything.
In conclusion, I like to think that anyone can fit in when visiting this place. I have been several times now and I think I’m a veteran New Yorker, which I’m probably not but that’s what I want to believe. My wife and I love NYC so much that we spent our honeymoon there, one of my birthdays, and we have been there a couple more times with family. We now have our favorite spots that we like to go, and we still enjoy it as much as the first time. To be honest, every time we go visit it feels new and exciting, but it also feels so familiar. NYC is a place that reminds me that there is comfort in chaos.
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